In Russia gambling slowly becomes legal again, even if in strictly designated areas: official website of legal information posted the news that Vladimir Putin signed a law on the establishment of gambling zones in the Crimea and Kuban. The State Duma approved the law on July 4, and the Federation Council, five days later. This law means that in the near future a number of casinos and other gambling establishments will officially operate in the Crimea and Sochi, some of these facilities will move there from four other designated gambling areas – Altai, Vladivostok, Kaliningrad and the Azov-Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. And, until now gambling in the Crimea was strictly prohibited.
Who will come to play?
Opening casinos and gambling facilities certainly means influx of gambling contingent to new gambling zones. It is because of this category of people casinos were prohibited everywhere in Russia except for the above-mentioned regions. Casinos were taken outside of settlements because they were enhancing criminal threat. It is for this reason that Vladimir Putin initially did not want to open such a zone in Sochi. Later, however, having received an appeal from the Sochi City Assembly, the public council and the mayor, where suggestions to open gambling zone were well grounded, Putin changed his mind and appointed the governor of the Krasnodar Territory to control the development of this initiative. It is believed that rich citizens of Russia and CIS countries will be coming to play in Sochi, and less well-do-do people will come to play to gaming zone in the Crimea. However, budget infusions, projected growth of investment in the regions, increased tourists flow and growth of popularity of the region nullify any possible doubts about feasibility and safety of such actions.
Exact borders of gambling zones in above mentioned regions will be determined by local authorities. There are two possible ways of gambling location in the Crimea: certain points in one area, or uniform distribution of casinos throughout the peninsula.
Who will get the Olympic legacy?
Sochi situation is even easier, because all the infrastructure has been built for Olympics held last winter, but currently it is not used. However, there is a special condition – gambling zones should be not located at the territory of objects constructed by state corporation “Olimpstroy“ as this company used budget funds to construct Olympic facilities. At the moment, the likely locations of casinos are approximately defined. These include, for example, the main Olympic Village, hotel complex Azimuth belonging to “Renova Stroygroup“ and Olympic mountain village, its construction financed by Gazprom. Sport-tourism complex “Mountain Carousel” built by JSC “Krasnaya Polyana” and hotel “Roza Khutor”, its construction financed by holding “Interros” that belongs to Vladimir Potanin, are also in the list of likely casinos locations.
Nikolay Solabuto, managing director of management company Finam Management, shared his opinion about development of gambling zones in Russia and specifically in Sochi and Crimea: “Four gambling zones, which have long been in the law and operate, are not well developed – time showed that investors are not interested in investing in development of these regions, as the flow of visitors is negligible. Even the territory of Russky Island in Vladivostok, which seemed very attractive first, did not really actively develop since the adoption of the law. Our government understands the complexity of the situation, because, first of all, people have a need for rest, and secondly, the state itself is losing money on taxes from gambling. So, establishing gambling zones in Sochi and the Crimea is a promising project. Sochi already has a number of good hotels where casinos used to operate before, and all they will have to do is to hang the sign “open” on the door. There are lots of accommodations with complete infrastructure in Crimea as well; casinos can open there in a day or two. And unlike all the previous zones, where all the infrastructure had to be created from scratch, in Sochi and Crimea everything is already done. Ultimately, this will provide possibilities to create both recreational facilities and budget revenues from taxes on gambling, which are quite high”.